Missy, the German shepherd who survived being left for dead on a Colorado mountaintop in August, will not being going home with the owner who abandoned her, 7 News reports.
Missy's inspiring story made international headlines last month after a courageous group of hikers, organized through mountaineering forum 14ers.com, mobilized to form an impromptu search party after a picture of the stranded dog was posted to the site.
The group of strangers tracked down the injured animal wedged in a crevice 13,000 feet up Bierstadt Mountain. The team spent hours transporting the dog down the mountain to safety, carrying the 100-pound animal through rain and snow.
As Missy recovered in a veterinary hospital, a man claiming to be Missy's owner came forward to claim her. Anthony Ortolani, 29, told 7 News that he had no choice but to leave his beloved pet after Missy cut her paws and couldn't walk. Calls to the local sheriff's office proved fruitless, and he resigned himself to the fact that Missy had died.
After coming forward, however, Ortolani said he also began receiving death threats. While he originally fought to keep custody of the dog, his chances seemed slim after Clear Creek County sheriff's officials announced they would be prosecuting him for animal cruelty, according to the Associated Press.
However, Ortolani's lawyer told 7 News that a deal had been reached this week which will allow the hiker to plead guilty to less serious violation. As part of the plea, however, Missy, re-christened Lucky, will be handed over to one of her rescuers, John Steed.
Speaking with KUSA, Steed said, "I hold no ill will toward Mr. Ortolani, and I think it's great that he has agreed to relinquish custody of Missy."
The group of good samaritans appeared on the "Ellen DeGeneres Show" Monday to give an update on Lucky, who they said is recovering well in a local shelter.
Speaking on the program, Steed said he was a lifelong animal lover that would be glad to welcome Lucky into his home. "I've got two rescue German shepherds. I think she'd fit in so well," Steed said.
Meanwhile, the group of hikers have also started a non-profit rescue group to help find stranded animals. They hope to have the organization running by next summer.
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